IT is all systems go as the Cagayan North International Airport (CNIA) in Lallo town, Cagayan, gears up for commercial flights, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has announced.
Secretary Raul Lambino, CEZA administrator and chief executive officer, said the first international commercial flight will come in from the former Portuguese colony of Macau on March 23.
“We are ready to open the CNIA to commercial flights to and from East Asia and the North Pacific,” Lambino announced during the Regional Development Council meeting of Region 2 in Santa Ana town, Cagayan.
Santa Ana is the seat of CEZA, a government-owned and controlled corporation established through Republic Act 7922 or the Cagayan Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.
It was mandated to manage the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport and spur economic growth through investment promotions in the area including the islands of Fuga, Barit and Mabbag in Aparri town.
Lambino said the first domestic flight of Cebu Pacific to the Lallo town airport will follow in April.
With a strong upgrade from its previous capacity, the CNIA can now accommodate the heavier Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
Lambino said the fourth quarter of 2017 and first two months of 2018 saw CEZA step up the pace of construction of remaining runway facilities for the CNIA to acquire “full aerodrome certificate” based on requirements set by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
These include development of the Runway End Safety Areas (RESA) on both ends of the 2.1-kilometer runway, and the runway strip width running along the edges of the 45-meter-wide strip.
“The most important installation is the Precision Approach Path Indicator or PAPI, which was commissioned in January,” Lambino said, adding that this facility helps the pilot acquire and maintain the correct approach to an airport.
“All obstructions along the landing path to Runway 22 have been cleared. We have also acquired an additional firetruck to bolster the CNIA’s crash fire rescue capacity,” he added.
The Lallo town-based airport also cuts the three-hour travel time by land from Tuguegarao City airport to Santa Ana town to 45 minutes.
“To get to Santa Ana, you don’t have to fly to Tuguegarao City, which is a three-hour-drive to here [Santa Ana],” Lambino said.
He said this has been years in coming but what was so difficult to do, “we at CEZA have finally done it.”
“On infrastructure build-up, we have listed top-priority projects under CEZA’s new redeveloped Medium-Term Development Plan,including a tertiary medical center, CEZA’s corporate center, convention center, boutique hotel and a financial technologies (FinTech) park,” Lambino added.
He said the elements are vital in the development concept for the Freeport called Global TransPark, the system that would integrate transport, telecommunications, manufacturing and commercial processes, distribution, technology and education into a seamless and efficient supply chain for tenants and users of the ecozone.
“Our long-term goal is to develop CEZA into a premier hub for the continuous development of these financial technologies or FinTech,” according to Lambino.
Block chain, bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and financial technologies, international coin offerings and cryptocurrency exchanges are among the products that CEZA will grow, he said.